Patabronia's Camp Trinkets

Twelve Years of Pine Cove can lead someone to have an interesting conglomeration of habits. For one, my heart rate peaks when I hear someone say “alright,” “OK,” or my favorite, “I’ll tell you what.” Sometimes I catch myself dancing The Wobble alone in my room, a confession I am not in the least ashamed to make.

In addition to these habits, various trinkets have built up over the years, from name tags to cedar medallions, to CQ’s, each of which proclaim a concrete and spiritual identity, to invaluable lessons recorded in my Young Guns journal that I return to even four  years later. I remember moments associated with every one of my trinkets. My counselor E.W.O.F (Towers, 2002) handing me my cedar medallion and me asking him “What does ‘amiable’ mean?” as we walk back to the DooDad cluster. Sitting around a campfire on the bank of the Neches River with my fellow Young Guns and being told that an identity has been placed on me, with no expectation that I earn the right to bear it. Getting my official Pine Cove camp name. Crying at the thought of finishing my last summer as a camper at the Shores (Week 8, Dominate), crying at the beginning of my summer as a Young Gun, and many other moments of crying throughout my summers on staff. The list is immeasurable. The list is invaluable.

These moments are mental pictures of a life in development, and as they play in my mind I can also hear the sounds associated with them. Sounds of zip lines and splashes, double honks to warn of a vehicle backing up, the mild hum of a motorboat down the hill, Jiggs ringing the bell. But also sounds of more importance. The sound of brothers encouraging one another, the comforting pat on the back. My counselor’s voice as he read The Silver Chair to us as we fell asleep. The sound of hundreds of campers singing O, Come Let Us Adore Him a cappella in the old Ranch dining hall. The trees brushing each other. The sounds, as much as the images, have become a part of my mind.

But what overwhelms me the most when reflecting on the twelve years past is the number of people at Pine Cove who have radically affected my life. I am at the end of a long chain of faithfulness that stretches from here to eternity. Because if it weren’t for the consistency of Pine Cove and all of the people who have stepped onto the path I’ve trod there over the years, I wouldn’t be the man I hope I am today: one who desires Jesus and his truth to be his heart, soul, and mind’s motive, and who comes to the throne of grace daily to seek what he doesn’t deserve. There is nothing but affection and joy when I look back at those people who have blessed me in such an invaluable way.

Summer Staff Praying at Camp

At the beginning of February I began the process of praying through my goals as a staffer for the summer of 2014, a tradition I have held since 2010, and am absolutely in love with. It starts each year with a blank page in my journal. I seek God for what his desires are, and then ask him to make them my own. But I also come to the table with my own desires, and ask God that he will allow them to be accomplished. By naming the things I believe God will do through me and my opportunity to serve at Pine Cove, I believe I speak authority into them. I write them down, paired with a verse or two, and constantly turn back to that page in my journal that was once blank.

And over the past four years of doing this, I’ve noticed something amazing: I am consistently more aware of the goodness of God and his provision and generosity during the summer when I have prayed for his Spirit to empower our ministry through these goals. By writing them down and empowering them with scripture, I make myself aware of the faithfulness of God. Because the truth is, you can have the simplest or most complex list of goals for your ministry, and even your life, but without the Spirit you will get nowhere. Even more, I’ve become aware of a metaphor which may be a bit cliche, but has been incredible to see come to fruition: just as I start each year’s list with a blank page, so I myself began as a blank page, and in the long development of my life, God has slowly been filling that page with goals of his own for me, and pairing them with memories of his goodness and faithfulness.

So if you are working at camp this summer, or any ministry like it, I encourage you to pray through your goals, pray them over your ministry and your life, and ask the Spirit to work through you. Remember the Gospel. Remember that it is only by the blood of Jesus and the pouring out of the Spirit that you are capable of seeing any goodness in your life. Walk with humility and seek his kingdom. All else will follow.